TEHRAN (Iran) â€” If certain religious powers get their way, it may soon be illegal to be a dog.
According to a Reuters report this week, Gholamreza Hassani, the Islamic leader in the northwestern city of Urumiyeh, announced at a recent prayer: "I call on the judiciary to arrest all long-legged, medium- legged and short-legged dogs along with their long-legged owners."
This bizarre statement caused at least one columnist to wonder if the edict exempts "legless dogs dragged around by short-legged people." 2
According to Reuters, canines are reviled by strict Muslims for being "unclean".
"There is a verse in our Koran that if a person … gets sniffed or licked by a dog, that person’s prayer will become unacceptable for 40 days," says Ombra Gandamra, the regional director of the Office of Muslim Affairs in Cagayan de Oro.
Yet, the Reuters article cites that in recent years, dogs have become more prevalent among well-to-do Iranian families. 3
Commenting on the anti-dog crusade (which Hassani has been pushing since 1998), Artin Zaman, one of the founders of the Iranian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, says: "Sometimes they go after satellite dishes, sometimes they go after the way women are dressed on the street and sometimes they go after dogs. It’s a way of keeping people distracted so they don’t think about bigger problems."